I am really proud of former prime minister Mr Patrick Manning for gracefully refusing the Honourable Prime Minister’s generous offer of the highest award of Trinidad and Tobago.
I would have done the same, not because of any disrespect to the Prime Minister’s gesture of goodwill but to show to young people of the nation that “a good name is more desirable than great wealth, the respect of others is better than silver or gold”.
Many decent, upright citizens, if they are honest, would admit in recent times, they have been disgusted by the so-called “new politics” of name-calling, character assassination and vilification of opponents and their families. Mr Manning has been a victim of all these things. In fact, there was a campaign of hate against Mr Manning in the 2010 general election. I expect Dr Keith Rowley, the Opposition leader, will suffer from the same campaign of hate.
When Mr Manning fell seriously ill and his detractors were falling all over themselves to praise him for his good works, I wrote a letter to the Express on January 25, 2012. I quote from that letter: “Like all human beings, Mr Manning made some errors. I am no apologist for him, Dr Rowley or Mrs Persad-Bissessar, but like all decent citizens, I often wonder where is the respect that is due to our former leaders.”
It is only in Trinidad and Tobago that a man is maligned one day and the next day, he is given the highest order in the land. It is either what has been said about the person is not true or the award is of little value to those bestowing it.
While I support Mr Manning’s decision, I will still maintain that our Honourable Prime Minister might be genuine in her gesture because she has recognised the work of a prime minister is extremely challenging. Could the Prime Minister be making amends for all the undeserved treatment meted out to Mr Manning for doing his duty as prime minister? What is the motive for bestowing this national award at this particular time?
Probably, Mr Manning himself has recognised his honour really comes from a higher power. Ecclesiasticus, Chapter 10, Verse 5, says, “A man’s success is in the hands of the Lord, it is he who invests the Lawgiver with honour.”